SEX, ETHICS AND BOSSES

bad bossesAn AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, which polls chief executives, chief financial officers, controllers and certified public accountants with executive roles in U.S. companies, found that businesses expect an increase in recruitment, staff training and spending in the next 12 months as economic conditions improve. Most of the executives questioned (56 percent) say their companies have the right number of employees, but 15 percent said they planned to hire immediately, up from 13 percent last year. Meanwhile the portion of those surveyed who said their companies had too many employees shrank from 10 percent to 8 percent.

Part of the problem with C level executives when dealing with employees, is that the employees don’t share nor understand the Type A+ personality of their bosses and they judge them harshly for it during tough economic times. Some mentioned that executives were thought to be ‘job slashers’ and lacked concern for their employees. In fact, based on executives’ own survey responses, they agree that they are getting worse at basic human interaction as the economy improves.

What’s the Disconnect?

A survey conducted last year by Booz Allen (BAH) found that executives largely believed the job was out of their hands and that they couldn’t help their company achieve its’ goals. A full 64 percent said they had conflicting priorities, while 54 percent said they don’t believe employees and customers understand their strategy.

That’s bad news for companies where executives’ capabilities in no way support the strategy. In that scenario, only 14 percent of such firms report above-average growth. It’s particularly troubling when 64 percent of managers don’t feel their company’s strategy will lead to success.

Being Ethical

A study released last year by the Economist Intelligence Unit, titled “A Crisis of Culture: Valuing Ethics and Knowledge in Financial Services” found that executives in the financial services industry didn’t see much to gain by conducting their business ethically. Does anyone remember the economic downturn of 2007-2008 which had a direct correlation from the securitization and purchase of ‘subprime’ mortgage loans?

Although 91 percent of those surveyed placed equal importance on ethical behavior and financial success, more than half (53 percent) think advancing their career would be difficult without being “flexible” on ethical standards. Only 37 percent believe their firm’s performance would improve if employees acted in a more ethical manner.

While 97 percent of those same executives feel qualified to handle their job — and 67 percent have raised awareness of the importance of ethics at their firms — 62 percent of financial executives admit they care very little about what goes on in departments beyond their own. But many of those same execs think their own departments are an ethical breach waiting to happen.

Sexism

Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg and research associate Robin Abrahams reviewed interviews of nearly 4,000 C-suite executives conducted by the school’s students between 2008 and 2013. Of those executives, 44 percent were women.

What is interesting is that 88 percent of male execs were married, compared with 70 percent of women. A full 60 percent of male execs had spouses who don’t work full-time outside of the home, while only 10 percent of women did.

Most male executives saw work-life balance as women’s work. Each side found it inconceivable that a man could pick up the slack, address work-life conflicts and actually contribute something other than money to the household. Meanwhile, the amount of stay-at-home dads has doubled since 1994.

What this review found is that executive’s contracts are locked-in and 16 percent said their company didn’t have a succession plan in place and that it would take up to three years to find their replacement.

Conclusion

Executives have lost the trust and understanding from their employees, and therefore honest and open communication has ceased. To engage employees, it is imperative that all executives and employees fully understand and embrace the strategic plan for the business. It is no longer acceptable to point the finger and say it’s management, and visa-versa. The real disconnect is the lack of accountability, with shared core values and a common and shared goal.

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